THE CELEBRATION OF MAWLID AS UNDERSTOOD BY THE SCHOLARS OF THE "SALAFI" MOVEMENT AND THOSE OF THE FOUR SCHOOLS OF AHL AL-SUNNA


  1. Ibn Taymiyya's Opinion on the Celebration of Mawlid and the Deviation of "Salafis" from his Opinion

    This is Ibn Taymiyya's opinion about Mawlid from the Collected Fatwas, Majma` Fatawa Ibn Taymiyya, Vol. 23, p. 163 and his Iqtida' al-sirat al-mustaqim, p. 294-295, Section entitled: "The innovated festivities of time and place" (ma uhditha min al-a`yad al-zamaniyya wa al-makaniyya):

    And similarly what some people innovate by analogy with the Christians who celebrate the birth of Jesus, or out of love for the Prophet and to exalt him, and Allah may reward them for this love and effort, not on the fact that it is an innovation... To celebrate and to honor the birth of the Prophet and to take it as an honored season, as some of the people are doing, is good and in it there is a great reward, because of their good intentions in honoring the Prophet.

    This is what "Salafis" cannot stomach, for all their love of Ibn Taymiyya, and they cannot seem to forgive him for saying this. One "Salafi" editor of the Iqtida', Muhammad Hamid al-Fiqqi, has a two-page footnote here in which he exclaims: "Kayfa yakunu lahum thawabun `ala hadha??... Ayyu ijtihadun fi hadha??" -- "How can they possibly obtain a reward for this??... What effort is in this??" and the contemporary "Salafi" scholars are all without exception cut from the same cloth of intemperance and deviation regarding Mawlid, substituting their ruling to that of Ibn Taymiyya although the latter should be sufficient for them. Thus we see another "Salafi" author, Mashhur Al Salman, exploding in similar terms in his recent edition of Abu Shama's al-Ba`ith `ala inkar al-bida` (Assault on all innovations), because when it comes to Mawlid, Abu Shama instead of censoring it declares: "Truly it is a praiseworthy innovation and a blessed one"!

    Further on in the same text Ibn Taymiyya mentions a fatwa given by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, the Imam of Ibn Taymiyya's madhhab, whereby when the people told Imam Ahmad about a prince who spent 1000 dinars on the decoration of Qur'an he said: "That is the best place for him to use gold."

    We ask: Was Ibn Taymiyya promoting bid`a when he permitted the celebration of Mawlid "as some of the people are doing"? Not only did he allow it, but he mentioned that their celebration of Mawlid "is good and in it there is a great reward." We ask again: Was Imam Ahmad making bid`a when he allowed the decoration of Qur'an? The answer to both questions is no.

  1. Ibn Taymiyya's Opinion on the Meetings of Dhikr

    The following is the opinion of Ibn Taymiyya on meetings of dhikr. It can be found in the King Khalid ibn `Abd al-`Aziz edition of the Majmu`at fatawa Ibn Taymiyya:

    Ibn Taymiyya was asked about people that gather in a masjid making dhikr and reading Qur'an, praying to Allah and taking their turbans off their heads (leaving their heads bare) and crying, while their intention is not pride nor showing off but seeking to draw closer to Allah: is it acceptable or not? He answered: "Praise to Allah, it is good and recommended according to Shari`a (mustahabb) to come together for reading Qur'an, making dhikr, and making du`a'."

  1. Ibn Kathir Praises the Night of Mawlid

    Imam Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani, in his book al-Durar al-kamina fi `ayn al-Mi'at al-thamina, mentions that Ibn Kathir, a muhaddith from among the followers of Ibn Taymiyya, "in the last days of his life wrote a book entitled Mawlid Rasul Allah which was spread far and wide. That book mentioned the permissibility and recommendability of celebrating the Mawlid."

    Ibn Kathir's book was edited and published in 1961. In it he says, p. 19: "The Night of the Prophet's birth is a magnificient, noble, blessed and holy night, a night of bliss for the believers, pure, radiant with lights, and of immeasurable price."

  1. `Asqalani and Suyuti's Fatwas on the Permissibility of Mawlid

    Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti said in his Hawi li al-fatawa: "The Sheikh of Islam and hadith master of his age, Ahmad ibn Hajar (`Asqalani) was asked about the practice of commemorating the birth of the Prophet, and gave the following written reply:

    As for the origin of the practice of commemorating the Prophet's birth, it is an innovation that has not been conveyed to us from any of the pious early muslims of the first three centuries, despite which it has included both features that are praisweorthy and features that are not. If one takes care to include in such a commemoration only things that are praiseworthy and avoids those that are otherwise, it is a praise worthy innovation, while if ones does not, it is not.

    An authentic primary textual basis from which its legal validity is inferable has occured to me, namely the rigorously authenticated (sahih) hadith in the collections of Bukhari and Muslim that the Prophet came to Medina and found the Jews fasting on the tenth of Muharram (`Ashura '), so he asked them about it and they replied: "It is the day on which Allah drowned Pharaoh and rescued Moses, so we fast in it to thanks to Allah Most high," which indicates the validity of giving thanks to Allah for the blessings He has bestowed on a particular day in providing a benefit, or averting an affliction, repeating one's thanks on the anniversary of that day every year, giving thanks to Allah taking * any various forms of worship such as prostration, fasting, giving charity or reciting the Koran... THEN WHAT BLESSING IS GREATER THAN THE BIRTH OF THE PROPHET, THE PROPHET OF MERCY, ON THIS DAY ? IN LIGHT OF WHICH, ONE SHOULD TAKE CARE TO COMMEMORATE IT ON THE DAY ITSELF IN ORDER TO CONFORM TO THE ABOVE STORY OF MOSES AND THE TENTH OF MUHARRAM, [but] THOSE WHO DO NOT VIEW THE MATTER THUS DO NOT MIND COMMEMORATING IT ON ANY DAY OF THE MONTH, WHILE SOME HAVE EXPANDED ITS TIME TO ANY OF DAY THE YEAR, WHATEVER EXCEPTION MAY BE TAKEN AT SUCH A VIEW."

  1. Other Scholars' Opinions on the Mawlid

    According tothe Mufti of Mecca Ahmad ibn Zayni Dahlan, in his book al-Sira al-nabawiyya wa al-athar al-muhammadiyya, page 51: "To celebrate the Mawlid and to remember the Prophet is accepted by all the Ulama of the Muslims." Most of the following quotations are taken from that work.

    Imam Subki said, "When we were celebrating the Prophet's birthday, a great uns (familiarity) comes to our heart, and we feel something special."

    Imam Shawkani in his book al-Badr at-tali`, said, "It is permissible to celebrate the Prophet's birthday." He mentioned that Mullah `Ali Qari held the same opinion in a book entitled al-Mawrid ar-Rawi fi al-Mawlid al-Nabawi, written specifically to support the celebration of the Prophet's birthday.

    Imam Abu Shama, the sheikh of Imam Nawawi, said in his book on innovations entitled: al-Ba`ith `ala inkar al-bida` wa al-hawadith:

    The best innovation in our day is the remembrance of the Prophet's birthday. On that day, people give much donations, make much worship, show much love to the Prophet, and give much thanks to Allah Almighty for sending them His messenger to keep them on the Sunna and Shari`a of Islam.

    Imam Sakhawi said, "The Mawlid was begun three centuries after the Prophet, and all Muslim nations celebrated it, and all `ulama accepted it, by worshipping Allah alone, by giving donations and by reading the Prophet's Sira."

    Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-Haytami said , "As Jews celebrated the day of `Ashura by fasting to thank Allah, we also have to celebrate the day of Mawlid," and he quoted the aforementioned hadith, "When the Prophet came to Madina..." Ibn Hajar continues, "One gives thanks to Allah for the favor that He gave on a particular day either through a great good, or through the averting of a disaster. That day is celebrated every year thereafter. Thanksgiving entails various forms of worship like prostration, fast, charity, and recitation of Qur'an, and what greater good is there than the advent of that Prophet, the Prophet of Mercy, on the day of Mawlid?"

    Ibn al-Jawzi (d. 597) wrote a booklet of poems and sira to be read at mawlid celebrations. It is entitled Mawlid al-`arus and begins with the words: al-hamdu lillah al-ladhi abraza min ghurrati `arusi al-hadrati subhan mustanira: "Praise be to Allah Who has manifested from the radiance of the bridegroom of His presence a light-giving daybreak..."

  1. To Celebrate Mawlid Is Mandub (Recommended)

    Imam Suyuti in his book Husn al-maqsid fi `amal al-mawlid, p. 54 and 62, says: "The reason for gathering for tarawih prayers is Sunna and qurba (to seek nearness to Allah)... and similarly we say that the reason for gathering to celebrate mawlid is mandub (recommended) and qurba (an act of drawing near).. and the intention to celebrate mawlid is mustahsana (excellent) without a doubt."

    Imam Suyuti continues, p. 64-65, "I have derived the permissibility of Mawlid from another source of the Sunna [besides Ibn Hajar's deduction from the hadith of `Ashura'], namely, the hadith found in Bayhaqi, narrated by Anas, that "The Prophet slaughtered a `aqiqa [sacrifice for newborns] for himself after he received the prophecy," although it has been mentioned that his grandfather `Abd al-Muttalib did that on the seventh day after he was born, and the `aqiqa cannot be repeated. Thus the reason for the Prophet's action is to give thanks to Allah for sending him as a mercy to the worlds, and to give honor to his Umma, in the same way that he used to pray on himself. It is recommended for us, therefore, that we also show thanks for his birth by meeting with our brothers, by feeding people, and other such good works and rejoicing." This hadith confirms the aforementioned hadith of the Prophet's emphasis of Monday as the day of his birthday and that of his prophethood.